The local community arts space I have been working with has a whole fascinating jumble of typewriters, but this little white Olympia (Nakajima) Olympiette Model S10 caught my eye. It was made in Japan, probably some time in the 1970s or 1980s. The serial number is #1004642 if that helps with dating.
White is an impractical color for a typewriter. It gets smudged and grimy so quickly just doing normal things that you would to a typewriter (like typing). However, this Olympiette is such a pretty little snowflake that I forgive it. It is a clean breath of frosty air. I love the winter white and charcoal keys combination. It reminds me of the Frozen North of Alaska, where I was born. I come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
Pretty but Plastic
The outer shell is white plastic and there’s plenty of plastic inside the machine as well. The Olympiette had two broken ribbon spindles, so the ribbon wouldn’t advance on typing. The ribbon spindles were made of plastic and had snapped off. 😦
I found one broken spool spindle nestled in the ribbon spool mechanism and glued it back on with super glue. That repair lasted about two minutes.
So I got a paper clip, cut it down and made little spool spindles.
I wedged them into a well in the spooling mechanism and used Super Glue to hold them in place.
My repair will get thoroughly tested as the kids camps and classes roll through The Shop at Flywheel Press and hammer the heck out of this little Olympiette.
I love the way this typewriter looks, so how does this little white snowflake type? Pretty good, but a bit jangly. The ribbon cover is missing its plastic retaining tabs (broken off) so the lid rattles quite a bit while typing. Maybe a little strategically-applied Sugru is in order. So: rattly, but still, I kind of like it!
The only issue for me is the top row of keys: the keys are tilted back at an angle. I am fairly short so I have to lift out of my seat to see the top row of keys (obviously I am not a blind touch-typer). It’s a subtle angle, but it makes it hard for me to use the top row of keys.
But I love the styling of this typewriter. It’s got a bad case of pretties.
The “AUTOMATIC” button is loads of fun. It’s like the POWER-SPACE on a SCM. I guess it’s there so you don’t have to reach up to the carriage release to move around on a page. Pressing the button sends the carriage stuttering along like a machine gun. I don’t know why I would want it to do that and make all that noise, but it’s fun noise.
I took the repaired Olympiette and one of the many SCM Smith-Corona typewriters with fixed clevises back to The Shop at Flywheel Press in the trunk of my car…
…and I picked up another couple typewriters to fine-tune. The Penncrest Concord electric has a fun script typeface, but several of the linkages are snapped off, including the important letter “A”. The Royal 10 is currently a “display” typewriter, but I think it will be a good typer. I bought special Royal-style spools for it, so it had better type.
13 thoughts on “Winter Olympiette”
That first picture made me realize… After the Axis powers failed to conquer the world, they clearly focused their efforts on conquering the typewriter market!
Also, despite white being an odd color for a typewriter, I think it’s one of the cooler color possibilities. The white Underwood 3-banks and Blickensderfers just look amazing. And these more modern machines just fit in so well in white.
Agreed. Herman Price’s “Moby Blick” is amazing looking:
Holy cow, you’re running a revolving door! 😀
I know it looks…unseemly, what with strange typewriters in and out of my house, but I really am very discriminating. All these typewriters really needed help.
Olympia (Nakajima) It’s enough to make you weep!
I fixed one or two of these spindles driving a small nail – heated and cut to length – through the plastic from the other side and securing them additionally with a drop of superglue.
And the “Automatic” button is fun to use. Even more if you type outside with a few bystanders watching. You press it in a sort of inconspicuous way and tell them: “oh! it’s downloading the new firmware from the net!” BING! “OK – it’s done. Type on!”…
Using a nail driven through the bottom sounds like a very solid repair on the spindle – will keep it in mind if my repair fails.
Back in 1980 while I was living & working in Mexico, I brought down from the States a Smith-Corona plastic portable made the year before. It had the same exact little plastic part that stuck out of the spool for the ribbon advance, and it promptly broke off. Your paper clip fix was a LOT better than my toothpick! 😉
As for the Royal 10, they’re great typewriters and you’ll be very happy with it once it’s fixed.
Funny – I thought about using a toothpick for the spindle. We’ll see how long the paper clips last. One commenter suggested a nail driven through the bottom of the spool plate which sounds like an even more secure repair.
That Royal 10 is 96 years old. With a little cleaning and strategic lubrication, it types like it was born yesterday.
If ou didn’t know, the covers on the top and top back come off by unscrewing the crews holding them down. You will be able to tell what ones they are. After those are off, you can clean a lot better. Also, you can take off the carriage (If you want) by taking off the top little roller that rolls on the top rail of the carriage on the back, and then unscrew all of the little t metal pieces along the back of the carriage, and it should come right off. Be careful of the ball bearings.
Thank you for your suggestions. Fortunately this little typewriter was pretty clean – I blew out the dust and it was typing fine.
Some of my typewriters have easily removable carriages (Lexikon 80, Oliver, Fox), but for most typewriters it looks like a very fiddly process. I have read horror stories of carriage removal and ball bearing on the loose. Since my knowledge is limited, I wouldn’t take the carriage off a typewriter like this just for cleaning. I’d do it only if it were truly not typing and appeared to have a carriage-related problem.
I picked up an Olympiette (Nakajima) model S10 identical to this in appearance and labels at a garage sale this past Sunday for just $1… just a little grime and a couple sticky keys (will try mineral spirits) and a missing right platen knob (who knows what to do about that, the left one is still there so I can use that one instead?). A new ribbon should get here today. It’s really quite pretty. Not to everyone’s taste I guess, but I really love the way it looks!
I’ll see if I can find some info for you on crafting a platen knob replacement. As I recall, I have seen some clever DIY solutions.